On Tuesday morning, 15 Margaret River SHS student councillors met with Jane Kelsbie MLA for the first Voice of Youth meeting. Jane introduced herself and outlined her background before being elected a Member of Warren-Blackwood in the 2021 Western Australian state elections. The students then raised concerns piloted by 2022 Head Student Madeleine Sherlock.
The discussion focussed on the following topics:
✓ Advisory council to the Commissioner for Children and Young People campaign: Jane suggested involving Jackie Jarvis to support the campaign and to bring the issue of free period products up in the Legislative Council.
✓ Unisex bathroom: The students will put forward recommendations for schools to implement
✓ Waste management: Jane will bring up the issue of FOGO bins in schools with the Minister for Education.
✓ There was a lengthy discussion about the justice system. The students pointed out that the Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre is a broken system and asked for safe houses for young offenders instead. There was also consensus about the need to improve the predicament of young indigenous offenders.
✓ The students asked for a discussion to increase the mandatory sentencing age to 14
✓ Jane then explained the caucus meetings and state politics processes, including the operation of committees. She strongly encouraged students to apply for the Youth Parliament in 2023.
✓ The students brought up concerns about the impact of foot and mouth disease. Jane explained that she and Jackie Jarvies are trying to organise a meeting in Margaret River to explain the new biodiversity plan. She wants to support farmers with ICT.
✓ The next topic focussed on sustainability and climate change. Jane is the secretary of the Conservation, Environment & Climate Change committee. She stated that most committee members are from the city and is trying to encourage more rural members to join. She then outlined her success in stopping the logging of the old-growth forests and explained how different communities reacted to this decision.
✓ Jane wanted to know from the students about their perception of bush fire mitigation and prescribed burns. The students suggested a texting system to alert people of impending burning, and Jane said she would investigate this idea.
✓ The final topic covered health care. The students wanted to know how overwhelmed the health care system is. Jane explained that aged care is a priority and that there are not enough palliative care places. Parking for hospital staff is another pressing issue. She said Amber-Jade Sanderson, Western Australia’s Minister for Health and Mental Health, is reviewing the system.
The meeting closed with a promise for a follow-up discussion and a group photo. The students thanked Jane very much for her commitment to their concerns and her open ear.